Teacher's management of learner discipline in a primary school in the Phoenix District.
This study set out to explore how teachers at a primary school in the Phoenix area in Durban manage discipline problems among learners. I employed a qualitative approach to collecting data. This facilitated meaning making from the data by considering the bigger picture and converting the raw empirical information into what is known in qualitative research as ‘thick description’. The two main methods used were observations and face-to-face, semi-structured interviews. A series of semi-structured interviews with probing questions for clarity were used extensively, with each interview lasting approximately 40 minutes. The sample size was five participants. Participants were teachers purposively chosen from the researched school, all of whom resided in the Phoenix district. Data analysis of the responses to the open-ended interview questions were categorised and were inductive in establishing themes through the process of coding. These themes were then organised into increasingly more meaningful units of knowledge. Three broad findings emerged. The first is that many teachers use a heavy handed approach to manage discipline problems among learners. The second is that other teachers used a softer, more ‘gentle’ approach in handling discipline problems. The third is that the school policy does not seem to have the desired effect in terms of assisting teachers to manage discipline problems. While I arrived at these findings from my observations as well as from the interviews with teachers, it should be pointed out that some teachers, who may have subscribed to ‘softer’ forms of discipline, might also occasionally use a ‘tougher’ approach. Furthermore, other teachers who were routinely ‘tough,’ might have a ‘soft side’ (at times). This study recommends that a sound understanding of the learners’ local context and backgrounds will equip teachers to formulate practical ways to manage discipline which will act as a guiding tool in eradicating the problems that originate from having to make decisions in the absence of a firm set of principles. An appropriate discipline system should be established by teachers of their own accord and engineered to suit their personalities and the realities of their learners, the community and the school.